December, 2004 -- In the closing weekend of action prior to the congressional break for the general election, the House and Senate passed a $2.9 billion drought-aid package for farmers and ranchers affected by adverse weather.
?Approval of these livestock assistance funds is very timely for sheep producers,? said American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) Executive Director Peter Orwick. ?It has been tough where drought conditions have persisted, and we applaud the tenacity of our Congressional leaders in ensuring that livestock assistance was part of a disaster package. We particularly appreciate the efforts of Senator Conrad Burns of Montana for directing assistance to sheep producers."
ASI anticipates the assistance will be in the form of the Livestock Assistance Program (LAP), with $350 million in funding from the disaster legislation. The expectation is that LAP payments will be available to livestock raisers who have lost more than 40 percent of available grazing.
In addition, the assistance ought to apply to producers in eligible counties with losses in either 2003 or 2004. In order to qualify, the county in which one resides must have been declared a primary county by either the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the secretary of agriculture in one of the two years.
?The availability for sheep producers to apply for losses incurred in one of the two years, either 2003 or 2004, is another great feature of the Congressional authorization important for our industry,? Orwick added.
The bill has been sent to the President for his signature.